Has creative writing sparked an interest in you that you can no longer ignore? Are you attracted to the art of transforming an idea into a vibrant, coherent, imaginative stream of well-chosen words? Do you have the motivation to grow and to learn, the drive to push yourself to improve each and every day, and a tolerance for risking rejection or failure in pursuit of your dreams? Then the challenge and rewards of creative writing await you.
The below suggestions may be worthwhile as you begin charting your course:
• Capture your ideas. Keep a notepad handy to write down your observations. Worthwhile ideas can present themselves at any given moment. You may find that fresh material comes to you in the dead of night, or early morning, or perhaps as you're driving or riding as a passenger. Inspiration can't always be predicted or manipulated, so stay ready.
• Paint pictures with words. Instead of writing about a character involved in a motorcycle accident, describe the smell of the slick, wet pavement, the length and violence of the skid, the panic of the character as he/she realizes that control has been lost and some degree of unpleasantness now awaits. Don't just tell, show. There's a potential reader on the other end of your creation, so provide enough sustenance to keep that reader involved and turning the pages.
• Unleash your imagination. Your characters can become whoever you want them to become. The scenes are yours to devise, the plot yours to construct. The story develops from an idea into a short story or novel based upon the power of your own imagination. You can make your main character larger than life, strong and determined, heroic yet flawed. It's your choice. And don't be afraid to take risks. It's your story; tell it like you want it.
• Write every day. Writing is an acquired skill, and thus must be diligently practiced. The skill development, discipline, and dedication needed to become an effective writer require continuous practice. It's not always easy, but your writing should improve over time if you write, write, and keep writing.
• Have fun. Make your characters come alive. Discover the unanticipated twists and turns that the writing process often takes once you have begun. Enjoy yourself. It will reflect in your writing.
Find your voice. Learn and practice your craft. Write, write, and write some more. You'll be pleased when you find the high satisfaction that creative writing offers.
Laughter creates a positive atmosphere, and goes a long way toward relieving the tension of both a speaker and an audience. It also serves to grab and, in many cases, hold the attention of the audience.
"Humor is the great thing, the saving thing, " said Mark Twain. "The minute it crops up, all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place."
Introducing humor into a speech is an art, and as such can be successfully employed with forethought, imagination, and good taste. You are a speaker, however, and not a comedian, but you are certainly not restricted from tapping into that great wellspring of humor, in your own way, and as your own artist. As in other areas of public speaking, the use of humor can be an acquired skill, and made better with practice.
As a speaker, knowing your audience is important, as in any other form of communication. Knowing what humor is appropriate is equally if not more important than how that humor is delivered. Your objective in your use of humor is to make your audience laugh, not cringe or throw objects within easy reach or otherwise head for the exits. It's about the laughter, not the ducking.
Consider the following ways of making skillful use of humor in your speech:
• A light, casual joke at the beginning. This can become an effective tension breaker, especially when the humor is relevant. Traffic, weather, sports, delays at the airport-these can be topical and easy for the audience to empathize with and relate to.
• Use self-deprecating humor when introducing yourself. This humor can be especially disarming when making oneself the butt of a joke or exposing an entertaining anecdote or foible. Use care in not overdoing this, but there can be a certain endearing quality about a speaker (or anyone else) who has the confidence and lack of pretension to share in a good laugh about oneself.
• Use humorous quotations. Find and use quotes that tie to the topic of the speech. Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, George Bernard Shaw, William F. Buckley Jr, and the above-quoted Mark Twain are but a few of the many rich sources of humorous quotations easily found on internet searches.
• Well-timed jokes or stories. These can be used in the body or ending of the speech, and again, should be appropriate and in good taste. Too, make sure the humor is funny to you. If a joke is to be told from memory, make certain your memorization is complete and well-rehearsed. Forgetting the punch line can make the speaker's podium an unusually lonely place.
Look at humor as a tool to sharpen your speech and improve the connection with your audience. As a speaker, a sense of humor is a valuable asset that, when used wisely, can set you apart.